Land bought by Leverich would become Austin

Published 4:19 pm Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chauncey Leverich bought out Austin Nichols in 1854. Leverich’s property was 160 acres that became the center of the village eventually known as Austin.

He built a saw mill on what is now Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street NE (formerly Water Street and Hickory Street) in 1855. According to “Mill on the Willow: A History of Mower County, Minnesota,” the address of that first mill is currently 705 Fourth Ave. NE.

When the book was published in 1984, the lot was vacant and owned by HUD. It had been occupied by the Campbell Flour Mill, the Hormel Co. and Clifford Greenman heating and refrigeration over the years. The old mill, then occupied by the Greenman business, burned down in 1967. (The Greenman family still operates a heating and refrigeration business in Austin at Fourth St. SE.)

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Reader Peter Grover shared with me the abstract of his property at 704 Fourth Ave. NE which lists Leverich as the first owner of the property in 1855. The house was built in the 1850s and would have been one of the first in the village, built directly across the street from the mill. Would this have been Leverich’s residence? I’m searching for conclusive proof. (With Leverich’s large holding of land, there are likely many properties in the oldest Austin neighborhoods that list his name as the first owner.)

Leverich worked with A. B. Vaughan to plat the lots of the town in 1856. Their survey was not immediately recorded with the county, leading to the story I’ll share next week.

Leverich also gets credit, according to oral history, for naming Austin. The village was known as Chauncey’s Place or Leverich’s Mill. Visiting with Levi Waterous and G. W. Mason on the future of the growing town in 1855, Leverich suggested ‘Austin’ and it stuck.

Materials from readers Ken Carlson and Dee Dee Bergstrom also contributed to this column.

 This week at the HHH

Monday: Floral Club meets at the Austin Public Library, 1 p.m.

Friday: ASD Family Respite program at the YMCA, contact the HHH for details

 Coming soon to the HHH

Social Concerns: Bullying in our Schools by Danielle Nesvold of Community Against Bullying at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20. Register at 433-4243 by Monday, March 19.

Peter Rabbit Story Time presented in cooperation with the Austin Public Library at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 4. Free, registration required.